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Home > Blog > Need It Need It, Got It
Out of Our Minds
Monday, August 16, 2004 12:10 AM
Need It Need It, Got It
Kevin Salwen on At Home

So many times, we think about things we want in our lives. 'I wish I could have that Mercedes convertible,' we might say, or the plasma TV or the pool or the beach vacation. This weekend, I started to turn that concept on its side: What objects in my life could I live without? The list was extremely long -- in fact, after I got to a car (this is Atlanta, after all) and a place to live (but not necessarily a sizable house), I started running out of things I actually needed.

So I'm wondering what would happen if every day I sold 5 items on eBay. Would I end up with a much emptier house and the designation of Power Seller? Or would I get cold feet (and crappy feedback) and not actually send the stuff people had bought from me?


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Stephanie - 8/23/2004 1:30:45 PM
Good Luck to you Mark. I hope that you find it as liberatiing as I am.
Mark - 8/21/2004 1:25:31 PM
PS - Don't forget what Tyler Durden said in Fight Club...

The things that you own will end up owning you.
Mark - 8/21/2004 1:19:02 PM
I'm yet another person approaching 40 and have come to the same realization that Stephanie has.

I read an editorial from an Aussie newspaper online about 6 months back. It talked about research that was done on people being satisfied as I recall. The conclusion was that on your deathbed, 'experiences' are what will lead you towards feeling that you had a fulfilled life, not 'having things'. In fact, the article said that as people got older, the positive feelings about experiences seem to increase as your memory. As a kid, my parents tooks us around the US visiting national parks for 6 weeks. It was great fun when I did it, but over 25 years later, I still cherish the experience.

My families house has gotten so cluttered that it's made living in it a maddening experience. Stuff everywhere!

I'm planning on an ebay selling spree also.

A good book to read if you feel yourself turning this corner is Janet Luhrs, 'The Simple Living Guide'.
Stephanie - 8/17/2004 1:02:05 PM
I am in the process of doing exactly what you describe. I am approaching 40 and feeling like I have spent a lot of my life collecting and buying stuff that really has no bearing on what will make me truly 'happy'. A lot of time was spent on wandering 'expeditions' were I shopped to combat boredom or to relieve the yuck-yuck feeling from work.

I have sold my car(I am buying a less expensive, simple one), I have sold about 25% of my excess so far and I have to tell you it is liberating. And the best part is, as I sell the stuff and I get the money for it, I am not in the least bit tempted to go shopping or splurge...I have turned a corner, so to speak, and it is quite interesting to step back from the 'status quo' and take an evaluating look at what I really want my life to be and what 'stuff' is really necessary to get me there.

Great article. Keep up the good work!
Tim Harding - 8/16/2004 8:06:30 PM
Just got done selling most of my stuff, my car, and renting out my house for a big move to London where stuff is a liability.

Kept a few paintings and books, my bicycle and my clothes and everything else is gone.

I've learned a few things... don't buy new. New stuff doesn't hold its value and there must be hundreds of people like me selling near new for pennies on the dollar every day. It is liberating to be free of expensive things... you can travel and not come back if you find the right opportunity. Finally, boredom breeds buying. While I was moving about a lot a few years ago right after college I collected nothing... I stopped in Austin for 3 years and spent too much time wondering what object might entertain me next.

Now I've got to find a furnished apartment for rent in London and a monthly tube pass.
Robert - 8/16/2004 6:04:53 PM
I've spent most of my life in and around New York City, arguably one of the centers of over-consumption of everything and anything. I've also had the privilege of visiting Mongolia, which is at the polar opposite of consumerism, still populated primarily with tent-dwelling (and seemingly happy) nomadic families owning nothing more than essentials. Thinking about the obvious contrasts, I could only conclude that neither culture has it perfectly 'right' (after all, buying stuff does spread the wealth) and that the answer perhaps is somewhere, somehow in the middle, that undefined, subjective and constantly moving place.

Maybe an answer is to sell 4 items a day on eBay, and to donate the fifth to someone deserving. Or perhaps I'm missing the point, which is if you don't need the stuff, perhaps no one does. If nothing else, just making the list and thinking about it seems instructive, thanks for the idea.


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